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Peter Makarthis

Thomas Gallagher

And 51st King’s Own Light Infantry
Cerigo 1826-1828.

This is a portion of an article written by a descendent of Thomas Gallagher who served in the 51’st King’s Own Light Infantry from 1824. The original article was written by Donald Clow Gallagher of New Zealand and appeared in the March 2004 edition of Australian Family Tree Connections.

Thomas Gallagher was born near Roscommon in Ireland about 1805. Thomas was the son of a farmer and was a farm labourer until he joined 51’st King’s Own Regiment at Athlone, County Roscommon in August 1824 as a private No372.

On his enlistment Thomas and 14 other recruits marched 59 miles from Athlone to Dublin and embarked for Bristol. They then marched from Bristol across England to the Albany Barracks in Regents Park London, joining the regiment and training there until December 1824 when they embarked on their first great adventure. The regiment sailed for the Ionian Islands, which were British Protectorates in the Ionian Sea, arriving in Cephalonia on 6 February 1825.

The Ionian Islands were a prize from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. British troops were stationed there from 1817into the 1840’s. When they were not engaged in training, guard and garrison duties, the troops were used constructing fortifications and on major public works. The construction of roads and other engineering works including an aqueduct to carry water to Corfu town were all constructed by British troops.

The regiment stayed on Cephalonia until November 1825 when it moved to the island of Zante where it was stationed until June 1826 when a detachment under the command of Captain Elliott was moved to the island of Cerigo, between Greece and Crete. This could have been a strategic move as England was at war with Turkey and Cerigo guarded the straits between Greece and Crete.

Thomas Gallagher served on Cerigo until February 1828 when the detachment was transferred to Regiment headquarters at Corfu. Thomas then spent time on islands of Santa Maura, Calamos and Vido before returning to Corfu in April 1829. The regiment embarked on the troopship Jupiter at Corfu on 25 April 1834 and sailed for Ireland.

Thomas Gallagher later served on Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) 1839 – 1846 returning again to Ireland. Thomas and his family departed for New Zealand in 1847 where he served with The Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps.

The life of Thomas Gallagher was one of great adventure compared to many of our lives, and it with a sense of awe that my Deanna and I undoubtedly crossed his paths on our recent visit to Kythera at the garrison buildings at Kapsali where his detachment was housed and to also view the Catuni Bridge which is an outstanding land mark built by the British .
Perhaps some fellow Kytherian has some photos of the garrison buildings or of the Catuni Bridge that they may be able to email to Donald Gallagher the author of the original article at [email protected]

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